Buddhism in Eyes of Intellectuals

Buddhism and social welfare
“Those who think that Buddhism is interested only in lofty ideals, high moral and philosophical thought, and ignores any social and economic welfare of people, are wrong.  The Buddha was interested in the happiness of men.  To him happiness was not possible without leading a pure life based on moral and spiritual principles.  But he knew that leading such a life was hard in unfavourable material and social conditions.

Buddhism does not consider material welfare as an end in itself; it is only a means to an end - a higher and nobler end.  But it is a means which is indispensable, indispensable in achieving a higher purpose for man's happiness.  So Buddhism recognizes the need of certain minimum material conditions favourable to spiritual success - even that of a monk engaged in meditation in some solitary place.  

Ven. Dr. W. Rahula, "What the Buddha Taught"